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         26 March 2002

On 25 March, the United Nations University (UNU) released a report entitled International Environmental Governance - The Question of Reform: Key Issues and Proposals to mark the opening day of the Third Global Prepcom for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which is to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in August/September 2002. The venue of the Third Global Prepcom is UN Headquarters in New York.

This preliminary report is one of the core outputs of the UNU's Interlinkages Initiative, a university-wide research project that began in Tokyo in June 1999 with the "International Conference on Interlinkages: Synergies and Coordination Among Multilateral Environmental Agreements."

The report outlines some of the key issues that have dominated the debate on international environmental governance reform in the lead-up to Johannesburg. This includes the prospect of establishing a centralized governance system that could, for example, be based around a new World Environment Organization. Another key question addressed by the report is whether a World Environment Court could serve as a useful complement to existing governance structures.

The aim of the report is to elaborate upon concrete proposals for reform that aim to protect, if not optimize, the unique strengths of the current international environmental governance system. These strengths include a high level of flexibility and capacity for innovation in the face of rapid advances in scientific knowledge and in response to continually changing political and economic conditions. An additional objective of the report is to outline the most crucial issues to be examined when considering the question of reform. This involves identifying specific gaps and weaknesses in the current system, such as a tendency for overlap and inefficiency and the inability of the current system to correct the continuing trend toward institutional proliferation. Other key issues addressed within the report include the goal of securing more stable financing to underpin environmental governance and also the need to encourage a constructive role for non-government actors within the processes of international environmental governance.

The report incorporates inputs from various academics and practitioners with a long history of involvement in international environmental governance issues. Contributors to the report include W. Bradnee Chambers, Steve Charnovitz, Peter Haas, Sebastian Oberthür, Joost Pauwelyn and Gary P. Sampson. The report can be downloaded from the following address:

The UNU, in collaboration with the University of Kitakyushu in Japan, is bringing together key research project contributors, along with a number of other eminent scholars and practitioners, for a two-day open workshop at UN Headquarters in New York on 26-27 March.

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For further information about the report or the workshop, please contact:
UNU Public Affairs Section,
Tel. (03) 5467-1243, -1246; Fax (03) 3406-7346




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